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Is ‘The Gypsy King’ boxing royalty?



Patrick McDonald/Flickr (Licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0)

On Saturday night (04/23), Tyson the “Gypsy King” Fury sent Dillian Whyte to the canvas with a powerful upper-cut. In doing so, he defended his WBC Heavyweight Belt yet again, having emerged victorious in the Wilder trilogy last Autumn. At the end of the bout and in the post-fight interviews, Fury stated that he was retiring and retiring for good from boxing. His return from him to the pinnacle of boxing had meant hard graft, time away from his family and an austere lifestyle, which inevitably takes its toll on a personal level. “Going home” to spend quality time with his wife and children was explicitly given as the motivation behind hanging his gloves up.

“His story is endearing — not only because of his success but also for the personal struggles”

What more can Fury achieve in the boxing world? As he stated himself, “I’ve fulfilled everything I’ve ever wanted to fulfill”. He became unified Heavyweight Champion in 2015 after defeating Wladimir Klitschko. He’s the current holder of the WBC Heavyweight Belt. And, if he truly does retire, he will do so as only the second heavyweight in history to retire undefeated, after Rocky Marciano. This in particular secures Fury’s legacy from him as one of the greatest ever heavyweight boxers. Mike Tyson had his upset against Buster Douglas, Muhammad Ali’s unbeaten run was ended by Joe Frazier, and George Foreman suffered his first defeat in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle to Ali. While it is impressive that those three (alongside Evander Holyfield, Tim Witherspoon and Floyd Patterson) regained a heavyweight championship having been defeated, surely Fury’s feat is more impressive. While I’m not going to go as far as argue he’s the greatest heavyweight in history – he can’t be far off.

“Retirement in sports has to be sometimes taken with a pinch of salt”

Fury’s wife, Paris, hinted that he could return to the ring should he feel the desire to fight the winner of Usyk vs. Joshua II, which is happening this summer. Of course, retirement in sports sometimes has to be taken with a pinch of salt – with some retirements having lasted all of 40 days. But uniting the heavyweight belts is the only conceivable reason Fury would step out of retirement and risk his undefeated record. However, despite his wife’s hinting at him, the “Gypsy King” was more non-committal, suggesting that Deontay Wilder would be capable of beating either Joshua or Usyk. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Fury would return to the ring for a big pay-out. On Saturday I have admitted that “It’s never been about money. I drove in an 07 Passat! I know money can’t make happiness. All I ever want to do is win!” This, therefore, points to a unification bout between Usyk or Joshua being the only possible reason for returning to the boxing ring, should he do so at all.

Instead, Fury seems more focused on family time and building his celebrity status. And he has a range of opportunities for doing so. This includes his ‘one million per cent promise’ to return to WWE. Fury’s Instagram page featured well-wishes from Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and The Undertaker. Having made his WWE debut at Crown Jewel in 2019, the franchise sees Fury as an inroad into the UK market with there being scope for crafting storylines that tie him together with other big-name wrestlers. He’s incredibly popular in the UK and will draw crowds. It seems that Fury will “fight” Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam in Cardiff, and he’s also called for WrestleMania to be brought to London. Furthermore, Fury brought UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou on stage after defeating Whyte, hinting at a possible crossover exhibition match. However, this remains unclear with Ngannou currently negotiating a new contract with the UFC that would allow him to box as well as compete in MMA.

Tyson Fury may or may not have retired from boxing on Saturday night, but either way, he will remain in the public eye for his mental health advocacy and other sporting and advertising commitments. He has had some controversial moments. But on the whole, his story of him is endearing — not only because of his success but also for the personal struggles he has overcome through fighting depression, obesity and substance abuse. After the disappointment of Lance Armstrong being exposed as a cheat, it is delightful for the sporting world to have a new role model with an authentic tale of huge challenges and great success. Whatever his next steps of him are, he is one of the best ever boxing heavyweights. In light of my exam season, I think I can take some advice from the man himself: “Come get some then you big ugly dosser.”

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